Bethesda

Now there is in Jerusalem by the Sheep Gate a pool, in Aramaic called Bethesda (or Bethsaida), which has five roofed colonnades. In these lay a multitude of invalids—blind, lame, and paralyzed. John 5:2-3

There is a Bethesda in Maryland, USA, located just northwest of Washington, D.C. It takes its name from a local church, the Bethesda Meeting House (1820, rebuilt in 1849), which in turn took its name from Jerusalem’s Pool of Bethesda (Bethsaida in some versions of the Bible). 

There is another Bethesda within the Maryland Bethesda that I know very well. My Daddy was hospitalized for five months in the Bethesda Naval Hospital. He died in that hospital at his young age of 46 from Pancreatic Cancer in 1960. It will be 60 years September 18, 2020.

This was the hospital in 1960. If my memory serves me right, Daddy was up on one of those upper floors. When I read the name, Bethesda, in the Book of John, I think of that five month period of our lives. There are so many memories: good, hard, sweet, sorrowful.

The photo below is more like what it looks today.

It is now the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center (WRNMMC). It is the combined legacy of National Naval Medical Center (once referred to as the Bethesda Naval Hospital and/or Navy Med) and Walter Reed Army Medical Center, having brought the two medical facilities together in September of 2011, as decreed by the Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) law of 2005. Currently, this is a United States’ tri-service (Army, Navy, Air Force) military medical center, located in the community of Bethesda, Maryland. It is one of the most prominent U.S. military medical centers in the United States, having served numerous U.S. presidents since the 20th century. It is also near the headquarters of the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

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Many find healing at this huge hospital complex. Others wait to get into the pool of stirred waters for some kind of healing. And others die there. No matter where on that spectrum one finds themselves, this hospital is a place for healing. That is its purpose…to find ways into and through diseases even though the physical healing may not occur for some such as my father. Yet this Bethesda is still a place for hope.

Heal me, O Lord, and I will be healed;
Save me and I will be saved,
For You are my praise.
Jeremiah 17:14

In pondering Bethesda, the pool in Jerusalem, I found my mind and heart wrapping around this incredible place where healing took place in Jerusalem. It was around this pool where Jesus healed.

Βηθεσδά

bēthesda

a pool (a pond or bath), which is called in Hebrew, Bethesda – the house of mercy, house of kindness, place for receiving and caring for the sick; flowing waters, the waters of which had curative powers

From the Commentary on John 5 by Matthew Henry: …for therein appeared much of the mercy of God to the sick and diseased. In a world of so much misery as this is, it is well that there are some Bethesdas – houses of mercy (remedies against those maladies), that the scene is not all melancholy.

Also, from the Commentary on John 5 by Matthew Henry: Bethesda …had five porches, cloisters, piazzas, or roofed walks, in which the sick lay. Thus the charity of men concurred with the mercy of God for the relief of the distressed. Nature has provided remedies, but men must provide hospitals.

One man was there who had been an invalid for thirty-eight years. When Jesus saw him lying there and knew that he had already been there a long time, He said to him, “Do you want to be healed?” The sick man answered him, “Sir, I have no one to put me into the pool when the water is stirred up, and while I am going another steps down before me.” Jesus said to him, “Get up, take up your bed, and walk.” And at once the man was healed, and he took up his bed and walked. Now that day was the Sabbath. John 5:5-9

This man did not have to get into the waters that day. He did not need to depend upon another person to place him in the pool which he obviously did each time the pool was stirred. Jesus healed this man after years and years of waiting. He was a patient man, to say the least. Jesus spoke the words and the man got up on his own at once. At once, he believed. At once, he was no longer an invalid. He could walk. There was no lifting or trying to get up. He could take up his own bed. At once, he obeyed. He did not know Who he obeyed at that moment, but he soon found out the man that spoke the words was the Christ.

At once…his physical health and, presumably, his spiritual health were healed.

We are always wanting a cure for that which ails us. Those physical issues gnaw at our minds until we can find out what is going on. We are all staring down the barrel of COVID-19 right now and want all of the answers yesterday. We want to “get back to normal.” We want to have the medical profession tell us the right answer without any mistakes on a disease we have never had before. When they error and then correct themselves once they know differently, we are upset that they did not tell us that the first time. They are doing all within their power to find the answers and give us the straight-up truth. It is just hard…real hard right now. Any time we are awaiting a diagnosis, a way forward for treatment, a healing, it can be hard.

Do these scenarios play out in our spiritual lives as well? Do we want to just be healed immediately without patiently waiting and trusting in the One Who heals? The Lord guides us, teaches us, feeds us His Truth. Do we want to have it all yesterday so we can just get up and walk? Do we depend upon our pastors to teach us the Truth that they have been given by the Holy Spirit? Do we allow fellow-laymen to care for us as we wait and watch, listen and learn, pray and be prayed over? Do we allow them to provide the hospitals, the houses of mercy, while we wait? Or do we have that short attention span, wanting it all now? Do we obey or expect cures, answers without any obedience on our part?

He heals the brokenhearted
and binds up their wounds.
Psalm 147:3

“…For I am the LORD who heals you.” Exodus 15:26b

יְהֹוָה

Yehovah

Jehovah, the Lord, Yahweh, the Existing One

רָפָא

rapha’

to cure:—cure, (cause to) heal, physician, repair, thoroughly, make whole

Jehovah Rapha – The LORD Who heals

Both, in the Old Testament and the New Testament, Jehovah Rapha is present, healing both physically, emotionally, and spiritually. He is with us today.

The LORD sustains him on his sickbed;
in his illness You restore him to full health
. Psalm 41:3

Bless the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all His benefits, Who forgives all your iniquity, Who heals all your diseases,... Psalm 103:2-3

And His name—by faith in His name—has made this man strong whom you see and know, and the faith that is through Jesus has given the man this perfect health in the presence of you all. Acts 3:16

Is anyone among you suffering? Let him pray. Is anyone cheerful? Let him sing praise. Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer of faith will save the one who is sick, and the Lord will raise him up. And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven. Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working. James 5:13-16

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Father God, thank You for being willing to heal us of our broken bodies, our broken hearts, our broken spirits. Thank You for forgiving us our daily trespasses and giving us our daily bread. May we seek You in all ways, coming from a heart that is tender toward You and toward our brothers and sisters. May we draw near to You no matter what our circumstances may be. I pray I stay on the path that You have directed for my life. May I be obedient to Your commands, humble to Your call. “But He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is made perfect in weakness. May I boast gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.” I also pray…”For He was crucified in weakness, but lives by the power of God. For (I am) also weak in Him, but in dealing with (others) (I) will live with Him by the power of God.”** In the Strong Name of Jesus. Amen.

Graphic/Map of “Pools of Jerusalem. Shows area north of temple mount. Photo by Leon Mauldin.”

Photo of “Excavations at the Pool of Bethesda. Photo by Leon Mauldin”

Photo of Bethesda Meeting House; English Wikipedia User: by Daniel Case

Postcard of Bethesda Naval Hospital

Photo of Walter Reed National Military Medical Center: Wikimedia Commons

Graphic: Jehovah-Rapha

** 2 Corinthians 12:9, 2 Corinthians 13:4

This is the Way…

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And though the Lord give you the bread of adversity and the water of affliction, 
yet your Teacher will not hide Himself anymore, but your eyes shall see your Teacher.  
And your ears shall hear a word behind you, saying, “This is the way, walk in it,” 
when you turn to the right or when you turn to the left.
Isaiah 30:20-21

The LORD clearly gives directions so that I would reach Him throughout His Holy Word.  As the Crucifixion and the Resurrection have recently been my focus, the one and only desire I have is to be with Him obediently.

 Standing near the cross were Jesus’ mother, and His mother’s sister, Mary (the wife of Clopas), and Mary Magdalene.  John 19:25

I want to stand at the Cross as His mother did.  She stood near to see her precious son beaten, nailed upon the Cross, bleeding, dying.  She could not have been closer to Him at this time… body, mind, and soul.  Her heart must have been beating with His.

Now on the first day of the week Mary Magdalene came to the tomb early, while it was still dark, and saw that the stone had been taken away from the tomb.  So she ran and went to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one whom Jesus loved, and said to them, “They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we do not know where they have laid Him.”  John 20:1-2
 

I want to go to the tomb with Mary Magdalene, looking for Jesus.  I want to run with her to the others.

Jesus came and took the bread and gave it to them, and so with the fish.  John 21:13

I want to be with those disciples fishing on the Sea of Tiberias.  Even though nothing had been caught, Jesus, Whom I do not recognize, tells me to fish on the right side of the boat.  I want to recognize Jesus and say, “It is the Lord.”  I want to break the fast with Him.

And their eyes were opened, and they recognized Him.  And He vanished from their sight.  They said to each other, “Did not our hearts burn within us while He talked to us on the road, while He opened to us the Scriptures?”  Luke 24:31-32

I want to walk on the road to Emmaus where Jesus joins me.  He shares His Father’s Word.

And when He had said these things, as they were looking on, He was lifted up, and a cloud took Him out of their sight.  Acts 1:9

I want to see Christ lifted up on a cloud, knowing that He will, one day, return for me in this same manner.

“For I am the LORD who brought you up out of the land of Egypt to be your God.  You shall therefore be holy, for I am holy.”   Leviticus 11:45

I believe.  I want to grow in His grace, becoming holy as He is holy.  I receive His grace moment by moment as I obey His commandments, following His Way, walking in it.

Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life.   No one comes to the Father except through me.  John 14:6

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He is my Truth, my Way, and my Life.  Christ is returning for me one day.

The beauty of Your Truth, LORD, sends me to my knees.  May I walk in Your holiness, LORD, with faith unfathomable.  May I be set apart, be consecrated unto You.  May I faithfully walk with You.  I pray that, obediently, I shall seek You in all ways, for all things.

I love You, my LORD.  In Your Name, I pray.  Amen

 

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The Burden of this Cross

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Then Jesus told His disciples, “If anyone would come after Me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow Me.   Matthew 16:24

ἀπαρνέομαι

aparneomai

to forget one’s self

lose sight of one’s self and one’s own interests

disown, abstain

Jesus’ words strike a hard cord in me.  I am called to follow Jesus because I have chosen His way over mine, yet I still want to do things my way, guide the direction of my own life, take my own chances.  Then I hit a wall and it hurts.  I run on empty, unable to go anywhere in life except down by the pull of gravity.  In order to follow the Lord, I am to deny myself, releasing my desires and hopes for His, His alone.  When I am in step with Jesus, all that He desires for me are those things I need.  An interesting piece of God’s puzzle for my life is His desires for me are often just what I desire for myself.  I’m not losing after all.  The relationship with Christ is far more important so that I walk rightly with the Lord.

αἴρω

airō

  bear (up)

place on oneself

to carry

My burdens can be worries, anxieties, physical pain, other people’s lives and their concerns, hurting people of this world, and so much more.  All can weigh heavily upon my heart.  The Word tells me not to be anxious, not to worry.  He is faithful and is with me.  He feeds and clothes the birds; He will do the same for His children.  So I lift those weights and take them to Jesus.

σταυρός

stauros

a stake or post (as set upright), i.e. (specially), a pole or cross (as an instrument of capital punishment)

figuratively, exposure to death, i.e. self-denial

by implication, the atonement of Christ:—cross.

The cross is what Jesus was placed upon for His crucifixion.  It is a horribly cruel punishment and eventual death.  Scourging comes first.  The one being crucified must carry his own cross.  Jesus did this part of the way until Simon was compelled to carry it the remainder of the way.  Jesus would hang upon the Cross until death.

And as they led him away, they seized one Simon of Cyrene, who was coming in from the country, and laid on him the cross, to carry it behind Jesus.  Luke 23:26

The cross is that which will kill this earthly life.

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I carry a cross, laden with burdens.  I place it there at the feet of Jesus.  He died for my sins.  Why do I continue weighing myself down?  Jesus has taken it all to the Cross.  Part of the definition of cross, in Greek, is self -denial.  I deny myself, being exposed to death, reproach, suffering, trials, punishment.  I am no longer mine, but His.

I am learning as I do that which Jesus asks of me: denying things of the self, lifting up that which weighs me down, carrying the cross to Jesus Who has already taken my burdens upon Himself.  It is in the doing, the actions of denying, lifting, and carrying to Jesus that I begin to find a clearer, deeper meaning to all that He is asking of me.

ἀκολουθέω

akoloutheō

to be or become the disciple of another as to faith and practice

to follow his teaching

Following Jesus is key to my walk in this Christian life.  When I am His, I desire to be near and to know the path upon which He leads me.  I release all burdens, knowing that He is caring for me.

“Come to Me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.  Take My yoke upon you, and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.  For My yoke is easy, and My burden is light.”  (Matthew 11:28-30 ESV)

As Your child, LORD, I depend upon You.  When I feel alone, or struggling with concerns, You are right here.  You are yoked with me.  You know my physical pain, the concerns that touch my heart regarding others, my anxiousness over provision for this earthly life.  Your grace is truly sufficient, Sweet Jesus.  Sometimes I feel wrung out and worn out.  The Word says in Matthew 27, verse 39-40: And those who passed by derided him, wagging their heads and saying, ‘You who would destroy the temple and rebuild it in three days, save Yourself!  If You are the Son of God, come down from the cross.’  But You hung on that Cross, LORD, and paid the ultimate price for me, releasing me to walk with You always. You have given me eternal life.  How much more could I ask?  What else is there to ask?  Forgive me when I am selfish.  Often, when I deny myself, I must turn around and deny myself again, LORD, because I am selfish.  I just am, but am also very sorry.  I carry my cross to You so that I may follow You.  “And whoever does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me.”  (Matthew 10:38 ESV)  I do not want to be called “unworthy,” LORD.  Thank You for walking with me on this journey even when I fail You.  Your forgiveness, Your love, Your gentle nature give me the hope in this life that my physical eyes cannot see, yet the eyes of my heart know hope for You are the Hope.  I love You, Jesus.  I pray gently in Your Name.  Amen. 

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Graphic:  by American/Dutch web designer Catherine Reijans, founder of KATINK web design; https://thinkingmuseum.com/2013/10/30/thinking-museum-on-think-katink/  (but the actual think-Katink web design site is no longer connected, but I want to give her credit where it is due)

Cross:  http://www.themescompany.com/2012/04/17/cross/

Green Wood or Dry Wood?

But turning to them Jesus said, “Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for Me, but weep for yourselves and for your children.  For behold, the days are coming when they will say, ‘Blessed are the barren and the wombs that never bore and the breasts that never nursed!’  Then they will begin to say to the mountains, ‘Fall on us,’ and to the hills, ‘Cover us.’    Luke 23:28-30

For if they do these things when the wood is green, what will happen when it is dry?  Luke 23:31

 

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ὑγρός

hygros

wet (as if with rain), i.e. (by implication) sappy (fresh):—green

 

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ξηρός

xēros

(through the idea of scorching); arid; by implication, shrunken, earth (as opposed to water):—dry land, withered.

Pilate has turned Jesus over to the people to be crucified.

The innocent, the unblemished Lamb, the Holy One, the One without sin…if they crucify this One, Christ Jesus, then what will they do to the ones who have sin, are guilty, are the withered ones?

In these lay a great multitude of impotent folk, of blind, halt, withered, waiting for the moving of the water.  John 5:3

Those who are less than perfect, which is all of us…

Those who are withered as dry wood, the man with the withered hand, those with withered, old skin, those who are less than physically whole…

Where do we stand in this scenario?  We are not the green, new wood of Jesus. We are, in ways of our own, the ones who are less than He is, by far.  Yet, there are ways to remain near to Jesus and return to Him where He sits at the right hand of God.

If anyone does not abide in Me he is thrown away like a branch and withers; and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned.  John 15:6

Let us…

come to Jesus as our LORD, our Savior

know that He died and rose again

abide in Him

obey Him

love Him

love others

be planted in the waters of the Lord

yield fruit that glorifies God

He is like a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither.  In all that he does, he prospers.  Psalm 1:3

LORD Jesus, teach me Your ways so that when my days are numbered I may return to You for You have called me.  May I be steadfast in my walk beside You, obedient in Your way.  May I stand near and learn from You so that I may glorify our Father in Heaven.  LORD, I want to be planted in You, my Living Water, quenched in the richness of Your Word.  May this tree bloom, seed, and become the fruit of love and joy, of peace and patience, of kindness, goodness, and faithfulness, of gentleness, and self-control.  May the fruit of righteousness come through You, my Christ, to me so that I may give glory and honor and praise to God.  May I walk in Your light for this fruit is found in all that is good, right, and true.  I want to be pleasing to You, taking no part in unfruitful works of darkness.  Your Word is a lamp unto my feet.  It is a light unto my path, keeping me upright and on the narrow path.  I pray all of this, LORD.  This is not an easy road, but it is the one I desire for all the days of my life.  In You, the Bright, Shining Star, I pray.  Amen. 

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Photo:  One Tree Hill:  http://www.fanpop.com/clubs/green/images/19839104/title/one-tree-hill-d-wallpaper

Photo:  Black and White of Dry Treehttp://www.wallconvert.com/wallpapers/photography/dry-tree-3475.html

Sojourner

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“You shall not oppress a sojourner.  You know the heart of a sojourner, for you were sojourners in the land of Egypt.  Exodus 23:9

גָּר

ger

properly, a guest; by implication, a foreigner:—alien, sojourner, stranger

a person living out of his own country

foreign shepherds, nomadic tribes wandering about in the land

I have been a wanderer much of my life.  I was born into a Navy family, Daddy being a Navy doctor and officer.  We changed duty stations about every two to four years, but he died early in life.  By the age of thirteen, I was no longer a traveler via the United States Navy.

But my mother loved to travel.  She packed us onto a train one Christmas to spend the holiday with her family in Chicago.  When we moved away from the Washington, D.C. area after Daddy died, she took about six weeks to go from the nation’s capitol to San Diego, California.  We stopped to visit friends and family and to see just about every sight she could find along the route.  Many Fridays after school, she would tell us kids, “Pack a suitcase because we are going to ….”  (wherever she had decided to go for the weekend) and we did!

Even in college, I was blessed with one whole semester aboard World Campus Afloat (now called Semester at Sea), traveling from port to port – South America, Africa, and Europe.  What an experience, gaining 14 college credit hours!

I became an adult and that wanderlust was still there.  I settled down for wee bits of time, but found new jobs, moved to where I would want to be or transferred and then I would find a teaching job (or something new).  Mom had told me, before college, that I would always be able to find a teaching job if I would go to college to become a teacher.  I did and found her wisdom was almost always true!

I have sojourned hither and yon.  I was a stranger or a guest most everywhere I went, at least for a time.

The LORD watches over the sojourners;
He upholds the widow and the fatherless,
but the way of the wicked He brings to ruin.  Psalm 146:9

Then one day, 23+ years ago, I came to know Christ Jesus.  I found that my heart had a home.  My heart belonged to Him and I would travel this earth as a sojourner, a pilgrim, yet had a real Home in Heaven.  I may wander more on this earth, in this life.  As long as I stay close to Jesus, I will not feel as an alien.  I am by His side and know my true Home.

Now the LORD said to Abram, “Go from your country and your kindred and your father’s house to the land that I will show you.   Genesis 12:1

Abram left his home and sojourned in many countries among many peoples.

Then the LORD appeared to Abram and said, “To your offspring I will give this land.” So he built there an altar to the LORD, who had appeared to him.  From there he moved to the hill country on the east of Bethel and pitched his tent, with Bethel on the west and Ai on the east.  And there he built an altar to the LORD and called upon the Name of the LORD.  Genesis 12:7-8

Abram built altars in remembrance of all that God was doing for him and his descendants, for the covenants He made with Abram, for guidance as God took them from place to place.

“Set up road markers for yourself; make yourself guideposts; consider well the highway, the road by which you went.  Return, O virgin Israel, return to these your cities.” Jeremiah 31:21

What kind of road markers, guideposts am I leaving to remind me of what God has done in my life?

  • my salvation – God blessed me with forgiveness and a new life in Christ.  I built a written altar in my journal along with the date of this momentous event.  I praise God for my salvation.
  • marriage to Kenneth, the husband God gave to me – I have a written altar of this beautiful date, a marriage license as well as the life he and I have built together.  We try to live as an altar unto God.
  • blessed me with parents who loved me; allowed me to care for my mother in her last fifteen years – another written guidepost, one which I have been blessed to share through Being Woven as well; my journal of many days throughout those years filled with the sweet memories of Mama.  The hard times are written there and are important too.
  • sisters who are caring and loving toward me – Thank You, LORD.  – my road mark is the love we share now, along with the memories through words and pictures, road markers in my mind and heart of when we were children together.
  • and many, many more!

Hear my prayer, O LORD, and give ear unto my cry; hold not Thy peace at my tears: for I am a stranger with Thee, and a sojourner, as all my fathers were.  Psalm 39:12

Father God, Thank You for dwelling with me as I journey through this world.  Each day is new as I listen for Your voice.  Thank You for directing me from one place to the next.  I pray that I am aware of Your nearness, LORD.  Thank You for comforting me, for guiding me, for loving me.  Build my strength each day, Father, so that I may walk in obedience and humbly.  Thank You for Your Presence in my life.  I love You so.  I am a sojourner.  Yes, I was born in the country in which I live, but anywhere on this earth is not my true home.  With You, in Heaven, …my real and only Home.  Thank You LORD.  I pray in the Name of Your Son Jesus.  Amen.

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Photo and quote:  https://mybible.com/ and https://billygraham.org/

The Way of Holiness – Isaiah 35

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God speaks to us through His Word.  I continue to ponder this highway that I am on.  I feel His nearness, His love for me, His joy as I learn from Him.  I walk the road with God.

Isaiah 35:1-10:

1 The wilderness and the dry land shall be glad; the desert shall rejoice and blossom like the crocus; it shall blossom abundantly and rejoice with joy and singing. The glory of Lebanon shall be given to it, the majesty of Carmel and Sharon. They shall see the glory of the LORD, the majesty of our God. 

You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide, so that whatever you ask the Father in My name, He may give it to you.  John 15:16

Then Philip went down to the city of Samaria, and preached Christ unto them. …. So there was much joy in that city.  Acts 8:5, 8

I desire to abide in You, my LORD, being obedient and submissive to You.  I want to be a fruit bearer, honoring You with joy and song.

Strengthen the weak hands, and make firm the feeble knees. Say to those who have an anxious heart, “Be strong; fear not! Behold, your God will come with vengeance, with the recompense of God. He will come and save you.”

“But I have prayed for you, that your faith should not fail; and when you have returned to Me, strengthen your brethren.”  Luke 22:32

Now we exhort you, brethren, warn those who are unruly, comfort the fainthearted, uphold the weak, be patient with all.  1 Thessalonians 5:14

May I serve You, my LORD, with boldness and strength, acceptably, with reverence and awe.

5 Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened, and the ears of the deaf unstopped; 6 then shall the lame man leap like a deer, and the tongue of the mute sing for joy.  For waters break forth in the wilderness, and streams in the desert; the burning sand shall become a pool, and the thirsty ground springs of water; in the haunt of jackals, where they lie down, the grass shall become reeds and rushes.

“…to open their eyes so they may turn from darkness to light, and from the power of satan to God. Then they will receive forgiveness for their sins and be given a place among God’s people, who are set apart by faith in Me.’  Acts 26:18

There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God, the holy habitation of the Most High.  Psalm 46:4

Oh, LORD, You are my All in all.  You are the One Who turns me from darkness to light, from blind to seeing, from deaf to hearing.  You set me apart for Yourself.  I am so very grateful.  May the springs flow through me as I walk in this world…that I would be Your witness, Your light, Your salt.

8 And a highway shall be there, and it shall be called the Way of Holiness; the unclean shall not pass over it.  It shall belong to those who walk on the way; even if they are fools, they shall not go astray. No lion shall be there, nor shall any ravenous beast come up on it; they shall not be found there, but the redeemed shall walk there.

Thus says the LORD: “Stand by the roads, and look, and ask for the ancient paths, where the good way is; and walk in it, and find rest for your souls. ….”  Jeremiah 6:16a

This highway stands before me.  I ask for the ancient paths and walk upon them for this is the good way.  I know I shall find rest there.  Thank You, LORD.

10 And the ransomed of the LORD shall return and come to Zion with singing; everlasting joy shall be upon their heads; they shall obtain gladness and joy, and sorrow and sighing shall flee away.

For the Lamb in the midst of the throne will be their Shepherd, and He will guide them to springs of living water, and God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.”  Revelation 7:17

I praise You, LORD.  I sing and rejoice for I know You.  You are my Guide.  You are the Way of Holiness.  Hallelujah!  and Amen!

 
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Photo 1:  Patricio Hurtado from Chile:  https://pixabay.com/en/hills-flowering-desert-flowers-960126/  CCO Public Domain (from Pixabay)

Photo 2:  Stas Kulesh, a Russian travel photographer living in Auckland, New Zealand.  https://hd.unsplash.com/photo-1451817045432-8c40f15299f9; https://unsplash.com/@kulesh; licensed under Creative Commons Zero

A Highway

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And a highway shall be there,
and it shall be called the Way of Holiness;
the unclean shall not pass over it.
It shall belong to those who walk on the way;
even if they are fools, they shall not go astray.  Isaiah 35:8

A voice cries:
“In the wilderness prepare the way of the LORD;
make straight in the desert a highway for our God.  Isaiah 40:3

Father God, I want to walk in Your ways, the highway of holiness.  You are Holiness that I seek and desire.  You are Love and Righteousness.  You are Holiness.  You make me whole.  When I walk on this highway, I walk toward You.  I so want to be wholly Yours, and walk the remainder of this life on earth in holiness. 

But my people have forgotten Me;
they make offerings to false gods;
they made them stumble in their ways,
in the ancient roads,
and to walk into side roads,
not the highway,  making their land a horror,
a thing to be hissed at forever.
Everyone who passes by it is horrified
and shakes his head.  Jeremiah 18:15-16

I do not want to wander from this highway yet I am human.  I have; I do; I will.  I have made and will make mistakes and I do error.  Yet, LORD, I do not want to.  You have forgiven me of my many past wrong steps.  I seek Your face, asking forgiveness for these paths I walk down when they are not Yours.  Thank You for loving me back into Your arms, my Precious Father. 

“Set up road markers for yourself;
make yourself guideposts;
consider well the highway,
the road by which you went.
Return, O virgin Israel,
return to these your cities.”  Jeremiah 31:21

I read Your Word, Father, as It is truly filled with the road markers that You have set before me.  I may wander off the highway, yet I want to be able to find You and Your way no matter what happens, no matter which way I turn.  I seek You and am learning to be quiet so that I may hear Your still and small voice, for I want to know You in the beauty of Who You are.  You are my God.  In the dark of night when the highway is black and there is no moonlight, I want to know that I am on Your path for me, for my life.   

But according to His promise we are waiting for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells.  Therefore, beloved, since you are waiting for these, be diligent to be found by Him without spot or blemish, and at peace.  2 Peter 3:13-14

With anticipation, with joy, and with expectancy, I continue taking step after step.  Today, I desire to stay in this very moment with You, my LORD.  Tomorrow, I want to walk beside You on Your road for me. 

But thanks be to God, that you who were once slaves of sin have become obedient from the heart to the standard of teaching to which you were committed, and, having been set free from sin, have become slaves of righteousness.  Romans 6:17-18

God, You have transformed my heart, beginning with my conversion to be Your daughter in Christ Jesus.  I walk as closely to You as I can.  I hope to stay near You from this moment on.  When I stray, LORD, please draw me near.  I sense Your strength as I am drawn under the shadow of Your wing, into the cleft of the rock.  I want to grow in love and righteousness, live according to Your Word, and be pleasing to You now and for always.  In the Powerful Name of Jesus, I pray.  Amen. 

But this command I gave them: ‘Obey My voice, and I will be your God, and you shall be My people. And walk in all the way that I command you, that it may be well with you.’  Jeremiah 7:23

Amen and Amen. 

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Photo 1: http://www.flickr.com/photos/7895628@N03/2807135427; “Endless Road” via http://photopin.com;  licensed under https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/

Photo 2:  Stas Kulesh, a Russian travel photographer living in Auckland, New Zealand.  https://hd.unsplash.com/photo-1451817045432-8c40f15299f9; https://unsplash.com/@kulesh; licensed under Creative Commons Zero

Peculiar Treasure

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In my younger and middle aged days, I ALWAYS wanted to fit in, not stand out.  I wanted to be wanted.  Have you ever felt this way?  I did things that I should not have done so that I would fit in.  I laughed at dumb jokes so I would not stand out as the odd girl out.  I said things to make myself, seemingly, a part of the crowd.  In reality, I would go home and detest myself for acting those ways because it was NOT who I really was.  I had this shadow following me around for years saying, “But you said….But you did this….But you did that….” and I would be living with these lies for years.

As I have grown older and have grown closer to Christ, I have come to realize that I am unique, different than anyone else on this earth.  I am me!  God created me and I am like no one else.  He wanted one me and now I am thankful to Him for His mercy and grace in forgiving my lies that I have told about myself and believed about myself.  I AM THE ONLY, THE ONE AND ONLY ME!!  : )  I do not have to fit into the world.  Jesus said, “They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world.”  John 17:16 

Paul said, “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.”  Romans 12:2

I am beginning to feel like the woman who wrote, “When I am an old woman, I shall wear purple.”  Maybe I shall not wear purple, but I shall dress from the inside-out, allowing God to remind me of just who I am.  I am now in my late sixties and have finally come to accept this beautiful fact and truth that is ME!

Thank You, my Sweet Father.  I am this odd girl out.  I am a peculiar treasure to You.  I am Yours.  I am the only me and I accept this me for she is who I am.  And, LORD, when I forget this truth, please remind me that I am unique because this is how You made me.  I am loved as I am.  I have been given gifts from You that are unique to me.  Forgive me when I forget; forgive me when I try to fit in to this world.  I thank You for loving me, Father.   

Meanings of the word peculiar today:

  • strange, odd, unusual, bizarre, weird, queer, unexpected, unfamiliar, abnormal, atypical, out of the ordinary;
  • exceptional, extraordinary, remarkable; puzzling, mystifying, mysterious, perplexing, baffling;
  • suspicious, eerie, uncanny, unnatural

There are three sets of meanings here.

In God’s Word, there are also three different meanings, ever-so-slightly different yet the same.

Hebrew

סְגֻלָּה

cĕgullah

feminine passive participle of an unused root meaning to shut up; wealth (as closely shut up):—jewel, peculiar (treasure), proper good, special, private property; often used as the people of Israel

Now therefore, if ye will obey My voice indeed, and keep My covenant, then ye shall be a peculiar treasure unto Me above all people: for all the earth is Mine: And ye shall be unto Me a kingdom of priests, and an holy nation. These are the words which thou shalt speak unto the children of Israel.  Exodus 19:5-6

For the LORD hath chosen Jacob unto Himself, and Israel for His peculiar treasure.  Psalm 135:4

And they shall be Mine, saith the LORD of hosts, in that day when I make up My jewels; and I will spare them, as a man spareth his own son that serveth him.  Malachi 3:17

 

Greek

Two slightly different words:

περιούσιος

periousios

that which is one’s own, belonging to one’s possessions: a people selected by God from the other nations for His own possession

being beyond usual, i.e. special (one’s own):—peculiar

Who gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto Himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works Titus 2:14

περιποίησις

peripoiēsis

acquisition (the act or the thing); by extension, preservation:—obtain(-ing), peculiar, purchased, possession, saving

Which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of His glory.  Ephesians 1:14

Whereunto He called you by our gospel, to the obtaining of the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ2 Thessalonians 2:14

But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of Him who hath called you out of darkness into His marvellous light:….  1 Peter 2:9

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May I look inside of me, Father, and see the beautiful heart You have given me.  May I know deep down that Your creation is a treasure to You.  Oh, that I am a jewel to the God of all creation.  Oh, Father, how amazed I am at this gem of wisdom.  I am Your jewel, Your precious treasure.  I am peculiar because I am beyond the usual.  BEYOND THE USUAL!!!  OH, how wonderful that sounds to this child of Yours who has tried to fit in for so much of her life.  I love You, LORD.  You are so beautiful to me.  Thank You for guiding me to this realization.  I feel like sunshine.  I am smiling for this truth is so very special for and to me, LORD.  I feel like a light in this world because I am Yours.  May I sparkle as a real jewel that has been buried in the earth and suddenly brought to daylight.  I know…I KNOW I am Your peculiar treasure.  In gratitude, I pray in the Name of Jesus.  Hallelujah and Amen.  

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Rose:  CC0 Public Domain – JaStra @  https://pixabay.com/en/rose-shrub-rose-pink-rose-flower-1450604/

Flower with butterfly: CC0 Public Domain – Hans @  https://pixabay.com/static/uploads/photo/2013/09/25/13/22/apollo-186207_960_720.jpg

Hear

hearing God

No matter what the world looks like through our human eyes, God knows the Truth. He knows all.  No matter whether we think He is listening to us, responding to us as we pray, He is doing so according to His will.

He is Omniscient.  He is Omnipotent.  He is Omnipresent.

I call out, “Hear me, O God.”  Consider and hear me O LORD my God;… Psalm 13:3a

Do You call to me so that I listen to You?  

“Hear, O My people, and I will admonish you; O Israel, if you would listen to Me!”  Psalm 81:8

You are Omnipresent, always with and before me.  Your Word is before me.  Your grace surrounds me.  Your mercy rains upon me. 

You are Omniscient, all knowing.  You see all.  Nothing is hidden from You, Father, even that which is hidden in our hearts.  You know.

You are Omnipotent, all-ruling, almighty. You have authority over all, my Heavenly Father.

Too often I do not hear You because I am making noise, asking, begging, telling.  I desire to sit before You, but I get busy and forget.  I am sorry.

What I need is…

quiet

stillness

calm

tranquility

peace 

openness

desiring to hear the One and only One.

“Hear me, O LORD; hear me that this people may know that You are the LORD God and that You have turned their hearts back to You again.”  1 Kings 18:37

Listening — hearing …

Your tender love speaking to my heart

Your Word to me personally on the pages of the Holy Bible

Your still, small voice clear and beautiful, quiet and sweet into my ear

Listening is loving so much that I am calm and still, waiting.  

Your wisdom sails into my being and stays.

Hearing is having ears and a heart open that I may use Your wisdom as I walk with You.

I want to listen; I want to hear — so much so that Your voice becomes a piece of me that naturally flows in and through, a non-ending stream.  I desire You, My LORD.

… “Brothers, you know that in the early days God made a choice among you, that by my mouth the Gentiles should hear the word of the gospel and believe.”  Acts 15:7b

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Obedience walks with listening.  How can I be listening if I am not obeying You? 

Hear, O Israel, and be careful to obey… Deuteronomy 6:3a

Observe and hear all these words which I command thee, … Deuteronomy 12:28a

  

I am … I want to be…

a listener

a hearer

an obedient child 

that God has called me to be.  

I believe.

“Whoever is of God hears the words of God….  John 8:47a

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Picture 1:  http://www.hem-of-his-garment-bible-study.org/hearing-from-god.html

Picture 2:  https://onepassiononedevotion.wordpress.com/tag/hearing-gods-voice/

A Whole Heart

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With my whole heart I seek you;
let me not wander from your commandments!

I have stored up your word in my heart,
that I might not sin against you.  Psalm 119:10-11

לֵב

leb

inner man, mind, will, heart, understanding:

inner part, midst:

midst (of things)

heart (of man)

soul, heart (of man)

mind, knowledge, thinking, reflection, memory

inclination, resolution, determination (of will)

conscience

heart (of moral character)

as seat of appetites

as seat of emotions and passions

as seat of courage

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Our heart is a place where we can be filled to the brim with things of God or things of this world.  We have choices to make.  Our heart can be wholly set apart to God and for Him.  Or it can be wholly or even partially set upon the things that lead us away from God, lead us astray.

God calls us to Him.  He wants us near to His heart.  He loves us so and draws us to Him.  He has given us many promises which are truly ours through obedience to Him.

And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you.  And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.  And I will put My Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in My statutes and be careful to obey My rules.  Ezekiel 36:26-27

The meaning of the word heart that is in Psalm 119:10 (the Hebrew לֵב  {leb} ) occurs 591 times in 546 verses in the Hebrew concordance of the NASB.  Throughout these many verses, heart can be interpreted to mean one of the many definitions listed above.  Yet, they each and all lead to the same place: our steadfast relationship with God, our Maker.

Dependent upon what that relationship with God is at any given moment, we stand with Him or against Him.  He wants us with Him always, but we are sinful and can reject Him.

See that you do not refuse Him who is speaking.  For if they did not escape when they refused Him who warned them on earth, much less will we escape if we reject Him Who warns from heaven.  Hebrews 12:25

In our darkness, we can easily walk away from the One Who made us for Himself.  We take that which He gives to us and then pretend we never knew Him.  He is the One Who knit us in our mother’s womb and saw us before the world even existed.  Yet we can be stubborn and stiff-necked, thinking that we know what is best for us.

It was I who knew you in the wilderness,
in the land of drought; but when they had grazed, they became full,
they were filled, and their heart was lifted up;
therefore they forgot Me.  Hosea 13:5-6

I know I have walked away and thought I could control my own life and would control it.  I thought I had the ability to be in charge.  I wandered in the desert without enough water.  I left peace and found agitation.  I shooed comfort away only to know fear.  I could not find shelter because I wanted to pitch my own tent, yet had nothing from which to make it.

My God will reject them
because they have not listened to Him;
they shall be wanderers among the nations.  Hosea 9:17

But, one day, I looked to the heavens and saw the Hand of God reaching to me.  I knew He had never left me nor did He forsake me even though I was one miserable person.

For you say, I am rich, I have prospered, and I need nothing, not realizing that you are wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked.  I counsel you to buy from Me gold refined by fire, so that you may be rich, and white garments so that you may clothe yourself and the shame of your nakedness may not be seen, and salve to anoint your eyes, so that you may see.  Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline, so be zealous and repent.  Behold, I stand at the door and knock.  If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with Me.  Revelation 3:17:20

God blesses me so.  I want to praise Him with my whole heart.  I come wholly to Him.  I know I am not able to be whole for Him at every moment, yet I desire to be.  My heart and soul and mind and body are His, wholly His.  When a part fails God, I seek His forgiveness and His comforting arms.  I praise You, Father. 

Sing aloud, O daughter of Zion;
shout, O Israel!
Rejoice and exult with all your heart,
O daughter of Jerusalem!  Zephaniah 3:14

My Abba Father, thank You for loving me unconditionally.  I do not deserve it, but I desire You more than anyone or anything.  I am hungry and thirsty and tired and needy.  You have fed me with the Bread of Life, given me Living Water, rested me on Your bosom, sheltered me under Your wing, provided all that I need.  You are gracious to me, Father.  I am so grateful.  LORD, I offer my whole self and pray that I stay on Your straight path.  I want to be wholly Yours with my whole heart.  May this be so.  In the Name of Jesus, I pray.  Amen. 

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Photo of Fuchsias:  http://flowerinfo.org/fuchsia-plants